Now a lively district with a harmonious blend of historical landmarks, bars, restaurants and cultural centers, this area was formerly an industrial dockyard.
Ipswich Waterfront is the town’s lively and revitalized port area. Come here to eat, drink, join river cruises and experience maritime trading history that dates back to Saxon times. Ipswich Waterfront is on the shores of a bend in the River Orwell, where a dock first came into use in about the 8th century. A regeneration program began in 1999 to give what was once one of Britain’s largest enclosed docks a new purpose.
Stroll along the quayside, where mariners and merchants once worked busily carrying goods between boats and warehouses. Today the same redbrick warehouses hold everything from brewpubs and bistros to boutiques, dance studios and galleries. Seals, waterfowl and other wildlife inhabit the water. Look for them swimming surprisingly close to shore between moored boats.
Dominating the architectural landscape is the Custom House, a classical-style masterpiece built in the 1840s and notable for its grandiose portico, Tuscan columns and Palladian staircase. Nearby see Wolsey’s Gate, the last surviving relic of a school established by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1528. Also in the area is St. Peter’s by the Waterfront, a 15th-century church converted into an exhibition and live music venue. St. Mary at the Quay is a medieval church previously used by mariners and now a wellness center.
Cruises depart from the port and offer an alternative view of the River Orwell. Enjoy afternoon tea, spot peregrine falcons and pass a smuggler’s hideout on a passenger ferry. Step aboard the Sailing Barge Victor, a 19th-century sailboat that served during World War II.
In August, the Waterfront hosts the Ipswich Maritime Festival. Watch open-air concerts, street performers and reenactments of seafarers arriving at the port on Viking ships. Dress in traditional sailor’s costumes and shop for local crafts. Visit the food market and fairground attractions, too.
Ipswich Waterfront is about a 15-minute walk from the town center. Find a place to park at several metered car parks nearby. Ipswich Train Station is less than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the west.